Why doesn't Ireland give its young players a chance? Garry Ringrose is being held back from being thrown in with Ireland despite repeated calls from fans to include the talented youngster.
We look down south to New Zealand, where 18-year-old Rieko Ioane was dominating in Super Rugby, and called into the New Zealand team, and we'd think - Ioane would be at least 23 or 24-years-old before he'd be involved with Ireland.
The last youngster to be thrown in the deep end with Ireland was Luke Fitzgerald. Now, 29, Fitzgerald was forced to retire six months ago after a career beset with injuries. There was a thought that he was never able to develop the necessary physicality to mix it with the huge men of professional rugby. The reason the youngsters in New Zealand can handle it is because of their island genes mean they are huge at that age, whereas Irish players aren't as big.
Speaking on the Anton Savage Show today, Fitzgerald was asked whether being put into the big boys straight out of school, which doesn't happen anymore, was a factor in his injury-hit career:
Yeah, I mean, I suppose there is two ways to look at it. You know, it's probably still a very young sport, as a professional entity. With it being professional, the athletes are getting bigger, stronger, the collisions are getting bigger etc. But you are also far more prepared to take the collisions. You're spending five days a week before a game, preparing yourself to be able to accept these big hits and to be able to dish them out properly.
Look, there's a balance there. When you talk about the age that I came in, I think it's a really difficult area. If you are able to play at that age, and you're physically able, which I was, if you don't take your opportunity do you miss your window? There's young guys coming all the time.
I got offered a contract, with a certain amount of money - it was kind of a different contract that anyone else had been offered coming straight out of school. Chieka said "the money's there, do you want to train with the academy, or do you want to train with the senior squad?". It was a bit of a no brainer. Do I want to train with Drico, Darce, Shaggy, all these guys? A hundred percent. That's where you are going to learn the most. It's only when you get rinsed a few times in training by these guys and embarrassed, that's when you really learn.
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See Also: Luke Fitzgerald, A Career That Teased Greatness But Didn't Quite Get There
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